Oh noes! Mr. Belarus is tracking me with the pornz!

Another spam email I got today. Not the only one, it seems.

In my opinion 330 usd is pretty enough for this little false!

Date: Mon, 29 Jan 2018 22:08:52 -0700
From: “Skylar_Moodie” info@linkleadsmta.com
Reply-To: “Skylar_Moodie” john_d0ne@yahoo.com
To: @markturner.net
Subject: =?utf-8?Q?WUV=3A_=3C
=40markturner.net=3E_30-01-2018_07=3A08=3A53_Anyone_can_make_a_mistake

Ticket Details: WUV-273-205439
Email:@markturner.net
Camera ready,Notification: 30-01-2018 07:08:53
Status: Waiting for Reply 85xuHa8n4kjjbiu84mbeioi1j438Hu5_Priority: Normal
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

hi.

If u were more attentive while playing with yourself, I wouldn’t write dis message. I don’t think that playing with yourself is extremely bad, but when all colleagues, relatives and friends receive video record of it- it is awful news.

I placed virus on a web-site for adults (with porn) which was visited by you. When the target press on a play button, device begins recording the screen and all cameras on ur device begins working.

Moreover, my virus makes a dedicated desktop supplied with key logger function from your system , so I was able to get all contacts from your e-mail, messengers and other social networks. I’m writing on dis e-mail because It’s your working address, so you will read it.
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Bot sends email with U.S. News links. Wut?

I got this unsolicited email two days ago from someone purportedly from U.S. News and World Report, asking if I would post some links to their site. The links provided appear to be legit and the message headers do, too. The one thing that looks out of place is the date of the domain registration for usnewsmoney.com, which is a recent May 2017.

The link the email goes to a post of a Mitt Romney story in Rolling Stone to which I added exactly zero of my own commentary. Hardly anything that would “really stand out!” So, it appears a keyword search found the word debt in my post (or title) and that’s why this post was chosen.

Ashley McNamara does not appear in other Internet searches, nor on LinkedIn as far as I can tell. Oh, and there was never any “email sent a few weeks ago.” There never is.

I checked my webserver logs back to the start of the month and the only thing that’s touched that link since Christmas are bots: mostly Google, but ones called Semrush (www.semrush.com), BLEXbot (webmeup-crawler.com), CommonCrawl (commoncrawl.org), and AwarioRssBot (awario.com), too.

Guessing this email came from a bot of some sort but I’m not sure of the endgame. What do y’all think? What’s the hustle here?

Hi Mark,

I wanted to follow up with you about an email I had sent a few weeks ago, did you get a chance to review it? It’s attached below just in case you needed it again. Let me know if you have any questions!
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I feel the need … the need for speed

Optimizing MarkTurner.Net

A few days ago I was playing with Pingdom’s Website speed test and shocked to find how long it was taking MT.Net to load for my legions of website visitors. There were several things slowing it down, earning my site a grade of a gentleman’s “C.”

After digging through some of Pingdom’s suggestions and carefully pruning my WordPress plugins and settings, I’ve managed to whittle down the load time from an average of over 3 seconds to just a hair over one second.

While there’s probably a little bit more performance I could squeeze out this is far better than it was. Enjoy!

Spoken stats from my weather station

Last Christmas (2016), I got an AcuRite weather station from Costco as a gift to replace my falling-apart Oregon Scientific station. It’s a decent little setup, with wireless transmission from a multi-sensor box outside to the panel inside. For the longest time my biggest complaint was its need to use Windows software to archive its data.

Acurite weather station

Then early last year I hooked up the open source weather software weewx to my station. Weewx creates a nice (if simple) graph of weather data (as seen at https://www.markturner.net/wx) and also kicks the data over to my MySQL database so I can save and query those stats. Last month I was able to create a fancy Grafana dashboard that dynamically displays that data in a beautiful format. Now I had taken a $75 weather station and made it much more useful!
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3 Major Reasons Why More Millennials Are Starting Blogs

“… sale of advertising can be a real moneymaker.”

Bwahahahahahaha! #unlikely

Millennials see opportunities through blogging. If they gather a solid following, the sale of advertising can be a real moneymaker, and there are a number of millennial bloggers who have successfully monetized their blogs through a number of techniques.

As an example, consider the recent phenomenon of millennial “mommy blogs.” These are smart, educated women who are now at home with children. Blogging is an outlet for them as well as a quick entryway into making a sizeable income. Many of these women spend a year or two building a following. Then, they move into monetizing their blogs and even developing their own product lines, with a loyal and trusting target audience already at their fingertips. Some of the more successful mommy bloggers have achieved incomes as high as $20,000 a month.

Source: 3 Major Reasons Why More Millennials Are Starting Blogs

Blogging tugs at me again

A teletype keyboard at the Living Computer Museum, Seattle, WAAs I scrolled through Facebook today, I noticed the location on a friend’s post was listed as Hayes, NC. It turns out that Hayes does not exist as a municipality but still appears on maps as it was once a stop on the railroad. That reminded me of the old “Neuse Station” depot that I used to live near and how it, too, shows up in maps as Neuse, NC though there’s nothing really there. I then did a search of my blog for posts including “depot” and turned up a great one I wrote in 2005 when I researched Neuse Station:

It was a day spent working in my yard which ignited my current interest. I took a break from digging a trench to climb up the hill near the tracks. On my way up, I spotted the stump of a sawed-off telephone pole. Nearby was a glass insulator, which led me to discover a long length of telegraph wire.

Curiosity got to me. How old was that wire?

I started putting a picture together from the resources on the Internet. These tracks behind our house are the oldest railroad tracks in North Carolina. They belonged to the Raleigh and Gaston Railroad, which was commissioned in 1834 to build a line from Raleigh to Gaston, where other lines led to Petersburg and Norfolk.

Work was slow and sloppy, but progress was eventually made. The first stop northward was a station called Huntsville. Later this stop became known as Neuse Station. Neuse was located right outside my neighborhood. That makes this spot near my neighborhood the second-oldest depot in the state.

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Chinese spammers abuse Jetpack plugin

All day long, Chinese spammers have taken advantage of an apparent flaw in Automattic’s (the makers of WordPress) Jetpack plugin. This morning, I noticed a slew of email bounces in my inbox, all with Chinese letters in them and a link to one of my blog posts. It turns out that the spammer has been clicking on the post’s “Share This” link and somehow entering their spam as the resulting email’s “From” address. Each email goes to a “qq.com” address, which is a Chinese mail provider.

The only way I could stop these emails was to turn off Sharing under Jetpack’s settings. Upgrading to the latest Jetpack (4.6) didn’t seem to help.

Apparently this has been an issue since 2014. I have no idea why this is the first time my site has become a victim nor why Automattic hasn’t figured out a suitable countermeasure yet.

Need Photos of Raleigh? Mark Turner Says Use His for Free, Please. – Raleigh Agenda

Raleigh Agenda wrote about my public domain photos of Raleigh today.

I first met Mark Turner on the corner of McDowell and Hargett streets for a mysterious “field trip,” as he had called it.

“C’mon, there’s something I want to show you,” he told me, motioning up the street toward DECO. He seemed eager to push past the handshakes and how-do-you-dos, so the adventure could begin. Inside the gift shop, he directed me toward a little basket filled with postcards.

“See that?” he asked, holding up a pack of cards that featured a colorful, sketch-like rendering of the Raleigh skyline. “These are based on the picture of Raleigh that I uploaded to Wikipedia. All the streets line up.”

Sure enough, the skyline sketch—captured from the Western Boulevard overpass, looking northeast in 2008—employed the same angle and details as the picture that accompanies the Raleigh, North Carolina Wikipedia entry. Even a red minivan was echoed on the postcard, eternally stuck in traffic. That’s Turner’s shot, free to anyone who wants to use it.

Source: Need Photos of Raleigh? Mark Turner Says Use His for Free, Please. – Raleigh Agenda

Georgetown Hospital blocks MT.Net, gives Facebook a pass

I’m connected to Georgetown University Hospital’s MedStarGuest network and trying to keep from being bored between tests. I was about to do some blogging this morning when I was greeted with a WebSense notification that my blog has been blocked:

No MT.Net for you!

No MT.Net for you!

What makes this particularly amusing is that Facebook is not blocked by the hospital’s WebSense nanny filter. It seems that MarkTurner.Net is considered “Social Networking” but Facebook, the granddaddy of all social networking sites, is not blocked for being “Social Networking.” What’s even more amusing is that other sites I host on the very same site using the very same software (like LigonPTA.com) are not blocked. Somehow I’ve earned inclusion onto WebSense’s no-no list.

This is yet another example of how idiotic these Internet nanny filters can be. Attention fellow IT people: there is no substitution for monitoring your own network. Don’t delegate your network monitoring to stupid products like WebSense.

And aren’t “guest” networks supposed to be safe for guests? Protect your important infrastructure with a secure network but your visitors shouldn’t need nanny filters.

Fortunately my VPN has not been blocked so that I could bring you this important message.